Use Built-in Apps to Support Life Skills Encourage clients to use apps already available on their mobile devices for assistance with job and vocational demands. App-titude
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App-titude  |   September 01, 2017
Use Built-in Apps to Support Life Skills
Author Notes
  • Sean Sweeney, MS, MEd, CCC-SLP, is an SLP and technology specialist working in private practice at the Ely Center in Needham, Massachusetts, and a consultant local and national organizations on technology integration in speech and language interventions. His blog, SpeechTechie, looks at technology “through a language lens.” sean@speechtechie.com
    Sean Sweeney, MS, MEd, CCC-SLP, is an SLP and technology specialist working in private practice at the Ely Center in Needham, Massachusetts, and a consultant local and national organizations on technology integration in speech and language interventions. His blog, SpeechTechie, looks at technology “through a language lens.” sean@speechtechie.com×
Article Information
Telepractice & Computer-Based Approaches / App-titude
App-titude   |   September 01, 2017
Use Built-in Apps to Support Life Skills
The ASHA Leader, September 2017, Vol. 22, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.APP.22092017.np
The ASHA Leader, September 2017, Vol. 22, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.APP.22092017.np
Photographer Chase Jarvis said, “The best camera is the one you have with you.” This advice is valuable when we help our clients with vocational and job challenges—we want to keep it simple.
Rather than outfitting our working clients with an array of third-party apps that perform specific tasks, consider supports for communication and executive functioning built into the “brains” of the devices and apps they already use.
Understand the operations
To back up a little, it’s important to grasp the role of a mobile device operating system, which dictates the features of built-in apps. An operating system (for example, iOS 10 for iPhone, Nougat for Android) is the software that makes the device function and powers its basic apps such as the clock or calendar.
You want to know how to check the version of the operating system the client’s device is running (generally found in the device’s settings—in the case of Apple devices, under Settings>General>About), and to be aware that different versions have different features, easily researchable once you know the software version.
As a specific example, iOS Notes started its life as an app that looked like a yellow notepad and was about as useful. Over subsequent generations of iOS, the app’s look, feel and function developed—the iOS 9 version includes features such as sketches and checklists within notes. In the most recent version (iOS 10), users can share notes so that, for example, co-workers can collaborate on projects.
Notes now provides our clients with a built-in place where we can, for example, construct a picture schedule or task sequence that they can check on the job. Knowing about updates and how to research them is important if we are making educational or vocational assistive technology recommendations.
Timing is everything
Clients’ mobile devices can scaffold a number of important life skills related to maintaining a job, including setting an alarm and managing a sleep schedule through the device clock and associated alerts. Though our young students often know how to download apps and play games, it’s important to assess how well they can use these features and to provide practice and training where they need it.
Using calendar apps with functional, regularly occurring events for clients can serve as a generalizable activity targeting temporal language and executive functioning. Reminder apps often provide text checklists as well, and allow for scheduled alerts triggered by time or even location (for example, as the student arrives at a GPS location, a visual message will be displayed).
Visualize the job
Back to the camera. Mobile-device cameras can serve many purposes for creating visual supports for work-related activities. Completed tasks, steps within a task, or photos supporting social communication can be supported with still photos from the device camera. Although there are great apps for organizing these photos into visual schedules, you can also create visual schedules in native Notes apps or by making an album in the Photos app.
The most recent iOS Photos app includes the ability to annotate photos (adding text or shapes highlighting aspects of the scene to draw clients’ attention, for example).
You can use mobile device video, also shot with the built-in camera, to create simple video models of work tasks and interactions. If clients would benefit from seeing a sequence slowed down—or sped up, for that matter—shoot in time-lapse or slo-mo modes available on the camera screen.
Office work
A few simple websites are great resources for interventions related to the workplace. O*NET OnLine, developed with sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Labor, provides a comprehensive, easy-to-navigate database of vocational information.
You can search on a job title and find a host of information, including the tasks and activities of the job; knowledge, education, skills and abilities the job requires; and interests, work styles and work values the employees in that job should have. The website serves as a concrete way to provide counseling, direction and motivation for treatment practice tasks for a client preparing for work in any field.
The Goodwill Community Foundation maintains a useful set of flash-based (not mobile-friendly) interactive simulations that can introduce skills such as following a bus or subway map, dialing phone numbers, filling out a timesheet, and using an ATM.
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September 2017
Volume 22, Issue 9